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Crimes of the Art is a weekly survey of artless criminals’ cultural misdeeds. Crimes are rated on a highly subjective scale from one “Scream” emoji — the equivalent of a vandal tagging the exterior of a local history museum in a remote part of the US — to five “Scream” emojis — the equivalent of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist.
Florida Man Beheads 13th-Century Statue
Thirty-three-year-old Jorge Arizamendoza was arrested at Miami Beach’s Ancient Spanish Monastery — the aptly named site, a 12th-century building, was shipped to Florida in 1925 by William Randolph Hearst — after threatening to kill the priest and those attending a prayer service for the victims of the Orlando massacre. A few days earlier, he had visited the site and knocked the head off an 800-year-old statue of Alphonsus VII of Castille.
Verdict: Just because Arizamendoza lost his head, he had no right to take it out on Alphonsus’s.
Man Behind Art Trailer Heist U-Hauled In
A Los Angeles man was arrested on suspicion of grand larceny (and subsequently released on $70,000 bail) for the theft of a 24-foot trailer containing artworks by Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse, Keith Haring, and others worth up to $250,000 (see Crimes of the Art #47). The trailer has been found stripped of its contents, but the whereabouts of the art remain unknown.
Verdict: Regardless of how this one plays out, let this be a lesson to collectors: try not to store your art in outdoor, movable storage units like trailers.
Unbearable Crime Solved!
Police returned a 300-pound, chainsaw-carved sculpture of a bear to the Albuquerque, New Mexico couple whose front porch it was stolen from in broad daylight back in February following a tip from a man in Utah. The bear was found amid a cache of stolen goods that a man was selling out of a storage locker in Davis County, Utah — some 700 miles from Albuquerque.
Verdict: Good thing the Davis County Sheriff’s Office was able to solve this grizzly crime.
Muhammad Ali Mural KO’ed
A memorial mural of the late boxing legend Muhammed Ali with a butterfly, painted on the gate to the Muhammad Ali Centre in Birmingham — which the athlete himself inaugurated in 1983 — was stolen. The Centre has been boarded up since 1998.
Verdict: Float like a butterfly, stolen like a Banksy.
London Police Have a Gripe with Groping Performance
The Swiss performance artist Miro Moiré was arrested in London’s Trafalgar Square over her participatory performance art piece “Mirror Box,” for which she walked through various European cities wearing mirrored contraptions around her chest or crotch, allowing strangers to grope her breasts or vagina for 30 seconds at a time. She was held for 24 hours and fined.
Verdict: Moiré’s half-baked relational aesthetics stunt evidently had an outsize influence on the Brexit referendum — no wonder people voted to make it harder for people from the continent to come work in Britain.
Car Dealership Can’t Af-Ford to Pay for Art
A flyer for a “Ford Freedom Sales Event” at a dealership in Quincy, Massachusetts, made unauthorized use of art from Firewatch, an indie video game developed by Campo Santo. The dealership claims it found the art on the site Wide Wallpaper, which makes no claims of being copyright compliant.
Verdict: Apparently “Ford Freedom” includes freedom from copyright law — who knew?!
Anti-Police Mural Irks Police
A mural commissioned by the French city of Grenoble as part of a street art festival caused a stir for its depiction of the allegorical figure of Marianne (a symbol of the French republic) cowering as two police officers in riot gear approach her with their batons raised. The work, titled “The State Beating Liberty” and created by the artist Goin, will not be painted over, as demanded by local officials.
Verdict: The mural is as lacking in subtlety as the people calling for its removal are in empathy.
Texan 9/11 Memorial Trashed
A small monument to the victims of 9/11 in the Texan town of San Angelo was vandalized and a chunk of World Trade Center that was part of the sculpture was stolen.
Verdict: Truthers know who’s behind the 9/11 memorial attack: George W. Bush.
The former panels, removed in 2017, featured images dedicated to Confederate Generals Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee.
One researcher, Jürgen Schick, estimated that over half of the region’s historical artworks have been stolen.
The Morgan Library & Museum Presents Another Tradition: Drawings by Black Artists from the American South
This exhibition celebrates the Morgan’s recent acquisition of drawings by Thornton Dial, Nellie Mae Rowe, Henry Speller, Luster Willis, and Purvis Young.
The visual arts institution and educational center is located in the most ethnically diverse urban area in the world.
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Part of the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, the Art Preserve also functions as a curated collection facility and is filled with immersive installations.